Jarvis Island

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First discovered by the British in 1821, the uninhabited island was annexed by the US in 1858 but abandoned in 1879 after tons of guano deposits had been removed for use in producing fertilizer. The UK annexed the island in 1889 but never carried out plans for further exploitation. The US occupied and reclaimed the island in 1935. Abandoned after World War II, the island is currently a National Wildlife Refuge administered by the US Department of the Interior.



Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and the Cook Islands

Geographic coordinates

0 22 S, 160 01 W

Map references



total: 4.5 sq km
land: 4.5 sq km
water: 0 sq km
country comparison to the world: 252

Area - comparative

about eight times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


8 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12nm
exclusive economic zone: 200nm


tropical; scant rainfall, constant wind, burning sun


sandy, coral island surrounded by a narrow fringing reef

Natural resources

guano (deposits worked until late 1800s), terrestrial and aquatic wildlife

Natural hazards

the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island poses a maritime hazard

Environment - current issues

no natural fresh water resources

Geography - note

sparse bunch grass, prostrate vines, and low-growing shrubs; primarily a nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for seabirds, shorebirds, and marine wildlife

People and Society


note: Millersville settlement on western side of island occasionally used as a weather station from 1935 until World War II, when it was abandoned; reoccupied in 1957 during the International Geophysical Year by scientists who left in 1958; public entry is by special-use permit from US Fish and Wildlife Service only and generally restricted to scientists and educators; visited annually by US Fish and Wildlife Service


Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Jarvis Island
etymology: named after three brothers JARVIS, the owners of the British ship from which the island was discovered in 1821

Dependency status

unincorporated territory of the US; administered from Washington, DC, by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the US Department of the Interior as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System

Legal system

the laws of the US apply where applicable 

Flag description

the flag of the US is used

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the US; visited periodically by the US Coast Guard


Ports and terminals

none; offshore anchorage only; note - there is one small boat landing area in the middle of the west coast and another near the southwest corner of the island

Transportation - note

there is a day beacon near the middle of the west coast

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Flag of Jarvis Island

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